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It’s good to talk

The UK’s inaugural Financial Planning Week (FPW) took place the week before the Lehman Brothers collapse. As reported in Money Marketing, the week itself was a great success but it also highlighted what a huge job there is to do in assisting people with planning their finances and, where appropriate, getting them in front of professionals to help them establish and realise their goals.

This week has also seen the biggest financial planning conference in the UK as the IFP hosted its annual event at the Celtic Manor in South Wales. Even with the financial world and the banks in disarray, leading financial planners were present to learn, network and even have fun. In troubled times everybody needs someone to talk to. Clients need to be reassured the end of the world is not nigh and communication skills are at a premium to ensure messages are delivered correctly. Advisers need to reflect on their own abilities to put their clients’ interests first and deliver the service required.

The FPW survey carried out for the IFP by YouGov revealed an interesting statistic relating to how those surveyed get their financial information and advice. The likelihood of having a professional adviser is low and most prefer to make their own financial decisions. As technology becomes part and parcel of our daily lives, people are less inclined to use more traditional ways of gathering information. The survey revealed price comparison websites as the favoured resource.

However, a third of the people surveyed could not think of any benefits for using financial advisers even when prompted with some choices. Those plumping for an answer went for access to the whole of the market as the most popular. The challenge therefore is in getting people to think beyond product transactions and to focus on the value of planning. There is huge opportunity for financial planners to make more of an impact on the marketplace.

Next year will see a step-change, underpinned by more resources and energy put into building the awareness of both the benefits and value of comprehensive financial planning.

There were some changes to the IFP board at the AGM. We said goodbye to Julie Lord, Simon Williamson and Anthony Harding, and welcomed Neil Bailey, Keri Carter and Becky Taylor. Barry Horner has taken over as IFP president with Marlene Shalton as vice president. The average age of the board is now 47. We have a dynamic team in place to help us shape future strategies for financial planning. Despite the polit- ical, economic and market turmoil, financial planning is in rude health and looking forward to a bright future.

Nick Cann is CEO at the IFP

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